Review: Heaven’s Door Whiskey – Complete Lineup
Mama take this badge from me
I can’t use it anymore
What I can use is a glass of whiskey, courtesy of musical icon Bob Dylan, who has partnered with an outfit called Spirits Investment Partnership (“SIP”), to launch Heaven’s Door, a collection of three American whiskeys. “Bob Dylan’s first and only brand partnership, Heaven’s Door will be an ever-evolving portfolio of handcrafted whiskeys in collaboration with different master distillers and blenders from across the country.”
Read all about it:
The genesis of Heaven’s Door came when spirits entrepreneur Marc Bushala, CEO of SIP [he was one of the founders of Angel’s Envy, by the way], read that Bob Dylan had registered a trademark application for “Bootleg Whiskey” in 2015. Bushala embarked on a mission to connect with the artist and explore ideas.
Through a mutual friend, a meeting between the two was arranged. Together, they developed the idea of creating a whiskey collection that would be the perfect blend of art and craft, incorporating Bob Dylan’s artwork in the packaging.
“Rather than make a single whiskey or work with one master distiller, we thought it would be far more interesting to work with various master distillers and blenders to make whiskeys that would each have their own unique signature,” Bushala explains, “By working with different whiskey artisans for each new expression, the portfolio would be more diverse and eclectic.”
“We both wanted to create a collection of American whiskeys that, in their own way, tell a story,” says Bob Dylan. “I’ve been traveling for decades, and I’ve been able to try some of the best spirits that the world of whiskey has to offer. This is great whiskey. I am happy to be partnering with Marc and our entire team as we bring Heaven’s Door to the public.”
After years and countless iterations of blending and finishing, Heaven’s Door arrived at its first three expressions. The trilogy includes a Straight Tennessee Bourbon, a Double Barrel Whiskey, and a Straight Rye Whiskey finished in “Cigar” Barrels from Vosges, France.
“The whiskeys had to be unique, uncompromising in quality and center stage,” says Ryan Perry, who leads whiskey development for Heaven’s Door. “We weren’t restricted by deadlines, budget or a particular taste profile. Working with master distillers like Jordan Via enabled us to establish creative collaboration as a foundational principle of the brand.”
Heaven’s Door bottles feature Bob Dylan’s distinctive iron gates that he created in his studio, Black Buffalo Ironworks, from objects found on farms and scrapyards across America. Complementing the mainstay portfolio, next year Heaven’s Door will introduce The Bootleg Series, showcasing Bob Dylan’s paintings on proprietary bottles. The Bootleg Series will offer rare whiskey stocks and special blends, available in very limited quantities.
While SIP refers to these as “craft whiskeys,” they are all sourced from unnamed distilleries, at least some of which are in Tennessee. The details that we do know are included in the writeup for each of the products. Thoughts on the full line follow.
Heaven’s Door Tennessee Straight Bourbon – “A unique mash bill from Tennessee, the Heaven’s Door Tennessee Bourbon utilizes 30% “small grains” to complement the character imparted from spending almost seven years in new American Oak barrels.” In other words, it’s 70% corn, 30% other stuff. There’s some heat on the nose, which effectively masks some of the more nuanced aromatic elements, though time in glass helps notes of pecan nuts, toasted wood, and some eucalyptus emerge. The palate is a little exotic for a bourbon, with more of a floral character that leads into a body loaded with honey, butterscotch, and a spiced vanilla character. The finish is nutty and vaguely tropical — exotic, lots of fun, and quite worthwhile. 90 proof. A / $50
Heaven’s Door Double Barrel Whiskey – “Comprised of a distinctive blend of three different whiskeys, the Heaven’s Door Double Barrel finishing process utilizes hand toasted, new American Oak barrels for a secondary aging worthy of another year’s wait. There’s more wood evident on the nose here, along with a doughy, crusty character reminscent of burnt toast and charred sugar. The palate hints at sweetness, but it’s filtered through that crume brulee crust and well-done toast, a clear signal that this whiskey has simply spent too much time around wood. The sharp, almost smoky character has its charms, echoing dark chocolate on the back end, but the experience is on the whole a bit too savory. 100 proof. B / $50
Heaven’s Door Straight Rye Whiskey – “Breaking with convention, Heaven’s Door finishes its Straight Rye Whiskey in toasted oak cigar barrels, harvested and air-dried in the low-lying mountain region of Vosges, France.” Cigar barrels, similar to Port pipes, are named for their elongated shape. It’s very exotic stuff, at least at first. Heavily herbal on the nose, aromas of thyme, rosemary, and well-charred wood emerge. Again that doughy element is prominent, here leading to a palate heavy with gunpowder, cloves, and barrel char. The endemic “spice” of rye is there, along with some apple-heavy fruit, but it’s unfortunately tamped down, bruised a bit by a wood regimen that simply overwhelms the underlying juice. 92 proof. B / $80